Warne, Strauss share honours on Day I

London, September 8:

Shane Warne picked up five wickets as England’s bid to break Australia’s 16-year hold on the Ashes faltered on the opening day of the fifth and deciding Test at The Oval. The 35-year-old leg-spinner took 5-118 on Thursday with England closing the day on 319 for seven. The not-out batsmen at stumps were Geraint Jones with 21 and Ashley Giles on five. Andrew Strauss and Andrew Flintoff steadied the home side’s innings with a 143-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Strauss reached 129 before he was dismissed by a clever catch from Simon Katich, diving forward at silly mid-off to grab the ball in his outstretched left hand and provide Warne with his fifth wicket of the match.

The stage had appeared set for yet another big first-innings total for England. An almighty roar went up from the crowd as England captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and forced Australia to bowl on a good batting wicket. The home side leads the series 2-1 and needs only a draw to win the Ashes that Australia has held since 1989. The tourists must win the match to retain the urn. While rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday, England openers Marcus Trescothick and Strauss made the most of the warm, sunny conditions. They looked set to steer their team toward a fourth straight first-innings total over 400, racing to 82 runs off 108 balls. That was before Warne was brought into the attack in the 14th over. The world’s leading wicket-taker stemmed the run flow in his third over when he had Trescothick caught by Matthew Hayden for 43 off 65 balls.

Warne then had Vaughan caught for 11 by Michael Clarke, reaching to his right at midwicket, and trapped Ian Bell leg before wicket for no score. Warne bowled two spells, the first of 18 overs and the next of 16. It was the 31st five-wicket haul of his career and ninth against England. He now has 33 wickets for the series. McGrath finished with 1-48 off 19 overs, while Tait had 1-61 off 15 overs and Lee no wicket for 68 off 17.